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A Speed Painting Tribute… different

23 Jan

As Speed Painters we have the privilege of performing for some of the most fun and exciting crowds – and most of our performances are just that: fun and exciting!  Incredible singers belting it out while we paint, crowd clapping, cheering, singing along… incredible and, yes, fun!

But this blog is about a request and a performance that was different.

This request came to us steeped in… well, tragedy.
The voice on the other end of the phone was humble and heartfelt, can we convey a message to a convention audience… sentiment really, one that could help a large group of people heal and pay their respects? The story, although straight out of a newspaper headline (literally as it turned out) had a shattering impact on the company and it’s employees – two of their people, a pair of young women, were killed while on the job by an eighteen wheeler running a red light.
During their annual event they wanted to honor these two women, pay tribute to them, and – we realized later – give everyone a chance to say goodbye.

Could we paint their portraits, but do it to honor the solemnity of the occasion? “Not too slow though, they wouldn’t have liked that, but not over the top… there’s over 1,500 people going to be there… we need your help.”

Over the next few days certain decisions became obvious. First the music: no live singers, no “motivating” music, just a simple, beautiful ballad . Second, we would paint both portraits at once, one at each end of the stage, each painter staying solo with their 6′ x 6′ canvas. Lastly, we would keep it contained at 6 minutes.

On site Michael and I ended up waiting backstage over 4 hours. That’s a lot of butterflies. Michael joked about how he was sick before speed painting Michael Eisner (“He was the CEO of DISNEY at the time and there he was sitting a couple feet in front of the stage.”) but this was nervous in a different way… humbling. And suddenly they’re waving us on and it’s bright and quiet and I’m walking up to the familiar blank canvas. The smell of our paints. Image of a young woman in my head.
I realized only a dozen people knew what we were painting, what would the rest think? And then I was gone.

While we were painting we didn’t dance or jump, didn’t do any sort of theatrics, we simply painted.  Just us, our brushes and our “subject matter”. For a few moments we held them – just as we strived to for the hours of studio rehearsal – a feature at a time, pouring our hearts into every stroke. With 1,500 people there, somehow, it was the most intimate performance we have ever done.

The music ended and their was silence. We turned. Funny how the noise of a crowd can sound different in different situations, it hit us as a rolling building thunder – part clapping, part cheering, part crying, not for us of course – partly for their company that took the risk in creating such a moment but mainly for the memory of their lost friends.
It was truly a beautiful, and humbling experience.

I hope they would agree.

Author Jeff Smith

Michael Ostaski and Jeff Smith are Speed Painters with the act The 3 Painters


Speed Painting Olympically

12 Jul

First of all, BIG congratulations to the USA Women’s field hockey team, both for qualifying for the Olympics, but also for a great finish against Argentina in a four-game series that was even televised on NBC Sports Network.

Speed painter Michael Ostaski (along-side popular corporate act The Pink Flamingos) was invited to perform at an event that the team held, a celebratory gathering of friends, family of the athletes, coaches, sponsors, past, current and future olympians, etc., and what a gathering it was!

London 2012!!

To begin the entertainment, Michael painted a larger than life patriotic portrait, with superb singer Ashley King providing the grand, vocal finale, and then the Pink Flamingos took over.

A little later, Michael wowed with another painting, this time of the London 2012 Olympics logo. After he finished this 2nd masterpiece, the Olympic march began to play and the band members lined up along the tables of the athletes- coach Lee Bodimeade introduced each Olympian one by one to the crowd and called them to the stage, and confetti followed each one as they ascended.

It rained confetti and splendor.

Once all of the athletes were on stage, the emcee brought back Michael for one final time, painting a field hockey player, and then spectacularly revealing the names of the 16 qualifying athletes while they watched from their spots on stage.

“We made the Olympic Team!”

Once Michael finished his third and last painting, the Olympians lifted a giant American flag and held it along the stage’s edge – and Ashley sang the National Anthem all by himself, no instruments, no track, just his stirring voice and a couple thousand listening ears.

Even a fiercely loyal Canadian couldn’t help but feel like a Patriot.
The National Anthem a la King

After he finished, the athletes tore off the stage and began to party, as The Pink Flamingos took center stage for a highly interactive dance.

This was a great opportunity for Michael (whom calling a “sports fan” would be the understatement of the century, by the way) to blend two seemingly unrelated mediums together – two mediums he loves. He did it once back in 2008 for Beijing, did it again this year for London, and he’s ready for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics – ready when you are, Olympians!

Baskets, and Touchdowns, and Paintings…Oh MY! Speed Painting at Sports Events

4 Jul

Michael Ostaski LOVES painting for sports fans – they’re one of the most passionate and vocal audiences that any performer could hope for: they cheer, they yell, they jump out of their seats and get into it! Just like Michael.

And athletics’ fans are eager for artistry, the leap to the basket, the blur at the finish line, the sailing drop of sweat, and Michael, one of the most versatile fast painters, strives to capture the drama in a wild 7 minute surge of paint on canvas. Basket after touchdown after home run after photo finishes… major sports fans, from the NBA to NASCAR to the Olympics, love it; it’s a rush, and they hunger for it.

But let’s not forget about the “P” word: pressure. Sporting events are all about it. For performing artists its one of the highest-pressure situations they will ever face. Take, for instance the performance that Michael did for the Chicago Bulls (actually, performances for most basketball games are very similar to this) – when performing for a basketball halftime, you have one of the shortest performance slots in the biz – 6 minutes to be exact. That’s six minutes to tarp the court, bring out the canvas and paint supplies, paint the painting, take off all the supplies and canvas, and then refold the tarp remove it as well (keep in mind that on average, Michael takes between 6 and 7 minutes to paint a portrait; this does not include setup or breakdown times). Oh, did we mention that if we were to get even a drop of paint on the court, it would be a foul for the home team and delay the game, most likely resulting in a fan riot? Ok, probably not, but we’ve never been willing risk it! Stressful? To say the least. But worth it? Absolutely!

We don’t just love performing, we love the opportunity to travel, inspire, and meet some cool people -like the Brain Urlacher (of Chicago Bears fame), Reggie Miller (one of only 5 to have his jersey number retired by the Indiana Pacers), and Yao Ming (Houston’s Chinese super-tall super-star) sort of cool people. And we’ve painted at all sorts of sports, too – golf, football, you name it. We’ve even done paintings for the Olympics!

The point is, sports and fast painting actually have a lot in common; high-energy, excitement, and a great rally for people to come together. What could be better than being a part of, and then watching, a good-natured and spirited sport, whatever it may be?

By jonahflamingo – Jonah also posts at

You’ve Hired a Fast Painter… Now What?

3 Jul

The Pink Flamingos

One of the best ways to boost your brand, deliver your company’s message clearly or even express your organization’s mission is through the use of live art performance painting or fast/speed painting.

One of our amazing acts is called Art Explosion, where the outstanding Michael Ostaski paints huge, elaborate paintings in less than 7 minutes. Now that you’ve hired Michael (or another fast painter) for your next event, the incomparable Lisa DeWolf shares with us her inside tips on how to make yours the most successful event it can be.

Use your fast painter to the best of their abilities.

Lisa says that the first thing to consider is how can you creatively use your newly hired speed painter. Consider the event that the painter is performing at – is it an award ceremony? Instead of simply announcing who the winner of the big sales competition is, have your speed painter…

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Thinking of Hiring a Speed Painter? Check Out These Tips

3 Jul

The Pink Flamingos

Speed painting – what a fantastic performance art. It really is one of the most versatile corporate entertainment acts available today. So, you’ve decided to hire yourself a speed painter for your next corporate event? Good Choice! Before you rush into hiring the first speed painter you find, here’s some advice from our show designer, Lisa DeWolf, to help you pick the best painter to meet your needs.

First and foremost, make sure you like their work!

Reputable speed painters will have a portfolio of work that they’ve done live in the average speed-painter’s time frame (6-10 minutes). And, more often than not, you can easily view their work online. So, view it! Make sure that you like the caliber of their work – what you see is a good indication of what you’ll get in a live performance.

Consider your budget, of course!

Prices for speed painters range very…

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